Intel’s acquisition of yet another AI company shows how the chipmaker is seeking to bake AI into its products.
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OVER THE PAST few years, the world’s biggest chipmaker has been buying up companies to help make its chips smarter. Through acquisitions of companies like Indisys, Xtremeinsights, and perhaps most importantly, fellow chip maker Altera (a $16.7 billion deal), Intel has devoted much its artificial intelligence efforts on baking AI into its into chips, as well as software that powers its 3-D video cameras. Today, Intel has added yet more AI to its portfolio with the purchase of Saffron Technology. Like many other AI startups, Saffron attempts to extract useful information from huge datasets via algorithms inspired in part on the way the human brain works. But instead of focusing on deep learning, the trendy branch of AI in which Google and Facebook are heavily investing, Saffron is focused its own technique called associative memory. The company was founded in 1999 by former IBM Knowledge Management and Intelligent Agent Center chief scientist Manuel Aparicio and led by former PeopleSoft executive Gayle Sheppard. It has deep roots in the enterprise software industry and cut its teeth selling software to the Department of Defense, such as a system for predicting the likely location of roadside bombs in Iraq. “We see an opportunity to apply cognitive computing not only to high-powered servers crunching enterprise data, but also to new consumer devices that need to see, sense, and interpret complex information in real time,” Intel New Technology Group Senior Vice President Josh Walden says. “Big data can happen on small devices, as long as they’re smart enough and connected.”